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Obama's Newly Proposed Fracking Rules Opposed by Both Sides

Susan Phillips / StateImpact PA

A drill rig in Susquehanna County.

Here’s one thing groups on both sides of the fracking debate can agree on — they don’t like the new regulations proposed by the Department of Interior for fracking on public lands. On the one side, environmentalists say companies should have to disclose the chemicals upfront, before any fracking takes place. The proposal now requires drillers to report those chemicals after a well is fracked. Jessica Ennis, from the environmental law firm Earthjustice, says Obama has gone back on his promise to protect public health.

“For one, the oil and gas industry needs to disclose the chemicals they’ll be using in fracking before they are pumped into the ground,” said Ennis in a press release. “This information is essential so communities can test drinking water before fracking occurs and monitor the safety of water supplies in real time. If there’s a problem with their water, families deserve to know immediately – not after they’ve been drinking it for years.”

Industry, on the other hand, says the Obama Administration is bigfooting the states when it comes to gas drilling. Erik Milito, from the American Petroleum Institute, says this creates another layer of bureaucracy.

“The states have proven time and again that they are the best place for responsible regulation of drilling operations,” said Milito. “The administration should exercise deference to the robust and comprehensive state regulations that already exist. Energy production on federal lands has a history of driving job creation, and creating significant revenue for the government. But this potential could be stifled by a federal regulatory program that duplicates existing state regulations. This could have a chilling effect on investment and jobs.”

Land managed by the Department of Interior is primarily in the western part of the country. In Pennsylvania, the Allegheny National Forest is run by the Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture. So these proposed rules won’t apply to the ANF. The Dept. of Interior does manage land in Pennsylvania, but it’s primarily National Park Service land where no drilling occurs.

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